Competition: the final frontier? The Canadian Press today is reporting that Liberal leadership hopeful Marc Garneau will tomorrow announce a plan to relax foreign ownership restrictions in Canada’s telecom sector.
Former astronaut Garneau, who revealed he would run for the leadership of the Liberal party in late-November, is no doubt hoping one of the country’s favourite pastimes -complaining about your telecom provider -will give him the boost he needs to launch past Justin Trudeau’s rock-star status as Liberal front-runner.
63-year old Garneau, who was the first Canadian in space, was president of the Canadian Space Agency from 2001 to 2006, and the ninth Chancellor of Ottawa’s Carleton University. He entered the political arena in 2006 and was elected in the Westmount—Ville-Marie riding in 2008.
In 2010, a report commissioned by MTS Allstream presented to the Director General, Telecommunications Policy Branch of Industry Canada showed what a lot of us already intuitively know, “The market is highly concentrated…” said the report, ” …with Bell, Telus and Rogers owning 96% wireless market share and telecom incumbents owning 73% wireline market share.”
Earlier this summer, long rumored amendments to Canada’s Telecommunications Act provided a foreign ownership rule exemption to carriers which represented less than 10% of total Canadian telecom industry revenues. A back of the napkin calculation means this applies all carriers with less than $4.17 billion in annual revenue. Bottom line: all carriers other than Bell, Rogers and Telus can now be 100% foreign owned.
The CP is reporting that Garneau will detail his ambitions Wednesday in Ottawa as part of a larger economic plan.